Two major City of Wolverhampton environmental projects are to benefit from a slice of more than £1million of European funding secured by a Black Country scheme.

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The transfer of more than 90 per cent of land at the former Wolverhampton Environment Centre (WEC) is lined up to be dedicated to wildlife and opened up to the public as part of the adjoining Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve (LNR).

The other project will see the council working with Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council and the Canal & River Trust to transform 6km of the Wyrley & Essington Canal corridor stretching from Wolverhampton city centre to the edge of Walsall, and areas of open space alongside it, into a new Local Nature Reserve (LNR).

As both projects are connected by water, they will now benefit from part of the £1.24 million ERDF funding the Black Country Blue Network initiative has secured.

The WEC project will receive £225,000 ERDF funding, while the Wryley & Essington Canal scheme will receive £59,500.

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: "As part of our commitment to bio-diversity improvement, we want to maximise the opportunities these Local Nature Reserves provide for wildlife, education and enjoyment.

"This European funding will help us work with partners to protect and increase access to these important natural areas and will ensure they are real assets to our city."

Black Country Blue Network will create a high quality ecological network with a diverse range of habitats, centred on the area's historically important waterways and associated green spaces. 

This will be achieved through a 3 year programme of infrastructure and habitat improvements along canals and rivers in the Black Country as well as other key nature greenspaces linked into this blue network, facilitating better visitor management and improved access for local communities.

The local nature reserve on the former WEC land will include woodland and pond management, meadow creation, car parking for walkers, self-managed allotments with parking spaces, new paths throughout to connect it to the wider Smestow Valley LNR, and new entrances from the disused railway line pathway into the reserve.

The LNR section of the Wryley & Essington Canal in the City of Wolverhampton will also be declared as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in recognition of the high wildlife value of the site, which is a home for dragonflies, butterflies, water birds, coarse fish and rare aquatic plants.

  • released: Friday 15 September, 2017